SEC: Mike McCoy

Jones looks iffy at best for North Texas game

September, 18, 2009
9/18/09
7:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


It doesn't sound like Julio Jones' chances of playing in Saturday's game against North Texas are real good, and it probably makes sense that he does sit this one out with Arkansas, Kentucky and Ole Miss coming up in the next three weeks.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said on his weekly radio show Thursday night that Jones (bruised kneecap) and running back Roy Upchurch (high ankle sprain) weren't 100 percent after trying to make it through their first practice of the week on Thursday.

"They haven't been able to practice enough probably to prepare," Saban said. "I don't think either guy is out of the realm of being able to play and will be back very soon after this game if they can't play in this game."

Terry Grant has moved back to running back this week after a short stint at receiver, and look for freshman Trent Richardson to get plenty of carries for the second week in a row.

Even with Jones not playing a big role to this point, the Crimson Tide have still gotten big plays from their receivers. Darius Hanks, Mike McCoy and Marquis Maze all have catches of 35 yards or longer in the first two games.

Alabama's McElroy finding his groove

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
2:45
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy goes up against his old high school coach Saturday in North Texas’ Tom Dodge, who coached McElroy at Southlake Carroll High just outside Dallas.

Obviously, Dodge already knows what McEloy can do.
Paul Abell/US Presswire
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy is gaining confidence with each game.

The rest of the college football world is starting to find out.

Beginning with that decisive fourth quarter in Alabama’s season-opening 34-24 win over Virginia Tech, McElroy is 31-of-42 with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.

In the 40-14 win over Florida International last week, McElroy completed passes to nine different players and seems to be settling into the kind of groove he stayed in as a high school senior when he set a state record with 56 touchdown passes. He set an Alabama record with 14 consecutive completions against FUI.

Looking back, McElroy admits that he was a little overwhelmed to start that game against Virginia Tech and missed 10 of his first 12 passes.

But getting it done in the fourth quarter against the Hokies was huge for his confidence and the offense’s confidence.

“I felt a little bit in over my head at times,” said McElroy, who hadn’t taken a meaningful snap at Alabama prior to this season. “I just didn’t feel real confident in myself. But once things started clicking, obviously things started rolling, and it kind of carried over into our last game. Once we got going, I knew I’d gain confidence in myself.”

This Alabama offense looks to be more diverse than it was a year ago. For one, star receiver Julio Jones really hasn’t been much of a factor to this point and is slowed this week by a bruised knee, but the Crimson Tide haven’t missed a beat offensively.

“I think guys are stepping up and making plays,” McElroy said. “Those people stepping up are allowing us to be more diverse with our play-calling, our system and our schematics. One of the ways we are more diverse is that we’re taking a lot more shots downfield. That plays to one of my strengths. I feel really confident throwing the deep ball.”

Receivers Darius Hanks, Marquis Maze and Mike McCoy have all gathered in long gainers in the first two games, while running back Mark Ingram has also been a integral part of the passing game out of the backfield.

Tight end Colin Peek is one of McElroy’s favorite targets, and we’ve just seen a glimpse of what freshman tailback Trent Richardson is capable of.

In other words, when Jones gets healthy, look out.

“We have talented guys all around,” McElroy said. “That’s one thing that might be surprising to a lot of people, but it’s not the least bit surprising to us. We have a lot of really good players all over the field. Their touches were limited last year, but they’re starting to catch up. They’re starting to gain some confidence, and they’re really starting to make plays for us.

"We’re looking forward to seeing this offense grow, and I think we can really go a long way as far as improvement. We’re really just scratching the surface when it comes to our ability as an offense.”

Alabama spring wrap-up

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
9:25
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Alabama Crimson Tide
2008 overall record: 12-2

2008 conference record: 8-1

Returning starters

Offense: 4; Defense: 9; Kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

RB Mark Ingram, WR Julio Jones, WR Mike McCoy, OG Mike Johnson, DE Brandon Deaderick, NG Terrence Cody, LB Rolando McClain, LB Dont'a Hightower, CB Javier Arenas

Key losses

QB John Parker Wilson, RB Glen Coffee, TE Nick Walker, OT Andre Smith, C Antoine Caldwell, DE Bobby Greenwood, S Rashad Johnson

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Glen Coffee (1,383 yards)
Passing: John Parker Wilson (2,273 yards)
Receiving: Julio Jones* (924 yards)
Tackles: Rolando McClain* (95)
Sacks: Bobby Greenwood (5)
Interceptions: Rashad Johnson (5)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
Sept. 12 Florida International
Sept. 19 North Texas
Sept. 26 Arkansas
Oct. 3 at Kentucky
Oct. 10 at Ole Miss
Oct. 17 South Carolina
Oct. 24 Tennessee
Nov. 7 LSU
Nov. 14 at Mississippi State
Nov. 21 Chattanooga
Nov. 27 at Auburn
McElroy moves in: John Parker Wilson went from shaky to solid as Alabama's quarterback last season, and the Crimson Tide won 12 games. Greg McElroy gets his chance to show what he can do after establishing himself as the starter this spring thanks to a combination of smarts, steady play and knowing exactly what Nick Saban is looking for from his quarterback.

Defense ready to pounce: The SEC will again be top-heavy with nasty defenses in 2009, and Alabama's defense has a chance to be even better than it was a year ago. Replacing safety Rashad Johnson won't be easy, but several of the younger players demonstrated this spring that they're ready to move up the depth chart.

Green for Johnson: Speaking of Johnson, one of the most pleasant surprises this spring for the Crimson Tide was the play of Robby Green at safety. He played on special teams last season as a true freshman, but stepped right in with the poise and confidence of a starter this spring at Johnson's old safety spot.

Fall questions

Finding the right combo: The Crimson Tide leaned on their offensive line as much as any team in the league last season. But gone are the centerpieces of that line. Junior college newcomer James Carpenter made a strong bid to be the left tackle this spring, and senior Mike Johnson will be a rock no matter where he lines up. But there's still going to be some more mixing and matching by offensive line coach Joe Pendry in the fall.

Julio and who else? Few receivers in the country strike the kind of fear into opposing defensive coordinators' hearts the way Julio Jones does when he's one-on-one with a cornerback. But the Crimson Tide need Marquis Maze, Mike McCoy, Earl Alexander or somebody else to come through next fall to keep defenses from loading up on Jones' side.

Staying hungry: Saban likes to use athletes such as Tiger Woods and LeBron James as examples any time he talks about the pursuit of excellence. Those guys are obviously self-driven and not consumed with what everybody else around them is doing. Alabama tasted success last season and flirted with a title. Does this club have what it takes to make that next step in 2009?

So long to the Capstone

August, 14, 2008
8/14/08
5:50
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

That's all from Tuscaloosa, where this really does seem more like Nick Saban's team. I don't think he's all that upset to see some of the older players from a year ago gone. I know there's a lot of buzz about the freshmen receivers, but I think the guy who develops into the Tide's go-to receiver this season is junior Mike McCoy. He's had a really nice camp.

I'll be in Starkville, Miss., later Thursday evening and hope to see the end of the Bulldogs' practice. On Friday, I'll catch up with Sylvester Croom, the reigning SEC Coach of the Year, and a few of the Mississippi State players.

On to Highway 82 West, where I hope the deer are staying off the roadways this evening. 

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